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FLAKE: PUT BRAKES ON KAV. VOTE 16 September 2018

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The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is working to keep the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation on track after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Sunday he was working on setting up bipartisan calls to keep Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on track.

Grassley’s office said it was working to hold calls alongside Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, to speak with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman alleging the judge sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago.

“The Chairman and Ranking Member routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to nominees’ background files,” Grassley’s office said in a statement. “Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote.” 

Ford revealed her identity on Sunday in The Washington Post after information leaked that Feinstein was in possession of a letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting a woman in his high school years. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk” at a party in the 1980s where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, grinded his body against hers and attempted to pull off her clothing. 

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. 

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee initially released a statement Sunday calling Ford’s motive into question and seemed ready to continue with Kavanaugh’s confirmation as scheduled.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told Politico Sunday that he was “not comfortable” with moving forward without speaking to Ford.

“We need to hear from her. And I don’t think I’m alone in this,” Flake told Politico.

GOP Donor Les Wexner Announces Departure From Republican Party After Obama Visit

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The L Brands CEO had previously condemned Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville in a speech to employees.

Ohio billionaire and longtime Republican donor Les Wexner says he is officially done with the party, and was prompted to leave after former President Barack Obama visited the state.

Wexner, the CEO of retail conglomerate L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, announced at a leadership summit in Columbus on Thursday that he “won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party” anymore, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The announcement, made at a panel discussion, came the same day Obama visited Columbus before heading to a rally in Cleveland to support Democrat Richard Cordray’s run for governor. 

“I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,” Wexner said of Obama.

Wexner said he’s been telling lawmakers that he is now an independent.

“I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,” he said.

Last year, following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Wexner condemned the racists in a speech to his employees. He said Trump’s tepid response to the violence ― in which a white supremacist killed counterprotester Heather Heyer ― made him feel “dirty” and “ashamed,” the Dispatch reported.

In a speech in Illinois earlier this month, Obama also called out Trump’s lukewarm response to the violence, in which the current president said there were “very fine people” on both sides.

“How hard is it to say Nazis are bad?” Obama said.

Wexner has long donated to Republican causes, including cutting a check to Jeb Bush for $500,000 in 2015 during Bush’s presidential run. The billionaire philanthropist has also donated $2.8 million to With Honor, a super PAC that endorses both Republican and Democratic candidates. 

During the panel discussion Thursday, former Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman praised Wexner for standing up to his former party, the Dispatch reported. 


Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Deny Brett Kavanaugh Could Spur Roe V. Wade Reversal

“There’s a process to overturn a precedent, and I think he understands that process,” the GOP senator said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday did little to calm abortion rights advocates who fear Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court would lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Graham, who opposes abortion rights, said he believed President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court understands the process for reversing a precedent like the one established by the court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, which made abortion legal in all 50 states.

“Here’s what I hope [Kavanuagh] will do: If there’s a case before him that challenges Roe v. Wade that he would listen to both sides of the story, apply a test to overturn precedent,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The bottom line here is there’s a process to overturn a precedent, and I think he understands that process, he will apply it,” he continued. “If it were up to me, states would make these decisions ― not the Supreme Court. But it is a long-held precedent of the court. It will be challenged over time, and I hope he will give it a fair hearing.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will hold its first confirmation hearing with Kavanaugh, Trump’s second nominee for the Supreme Court.

Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the nomination of Kavanaugh, a conservative circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would likely shift the Supreme Court further to the right, giving its conservative faction a five-vote majority.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), as well as Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have expressed concerns that Trump may have picked Kavanaugh as a way to shield himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Kavanaugh has argued that presidents should be exempt from civil suits, criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions. 

“Should a president be allowed to appoint somebody who’s already made it clear that he would give immunity to him should anything come before the Supreme Court?” Booker asked in an interview with Business Insider in July. “So this is a stunning thing to me that is so shocking that we’re going to have to allow this to happen.”

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